When Soccer Meets Social Media: An Interview with Staci Wilson

Interviewer’s Note:  Many people have talked about the pleasant surprise of connecting with well-known people via Twitter, especially when it facilitated a dialogue that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.  Today’s interview is in that vein; recently I found myself tweeting with Staci Wilson, an Olympic gold-medalist for soccer in the 1996 Games!  Now working as a coach, we talked about the role social media plays in her work.

Hello Staci, welcome to the Pluggio Blog!  In a nutshell, how do you describe your work?

I coach college and youth soccer teams. I also train many athletes who need skills and/or fitness development.

How did you get started as a coach/ fitness expert?

It was a transition from being a player. Not only did I love soccer but also off the field I was a “gym rat” relative to my soccer teammates. Upon graduation from college I coached soccer for a private school. After a short time on the job, the school AD noticed my experience in and passion for strength training, thus asked me to also start their strength and conditioning program for all athletes in the off-season. Eventually that turned into a year-round position and my development and experience as a coach/fitness expert really took off from there.

I’m curious how a soccer coach, or athletic worker in general, would benefit from using social media- would it be to promote games, communicate to players, the community, etc?

As a youth coach, there is a huge benefit of being able to communicate with players. It can be an effective way to connect if you prod occasional fun or send general positive messages that they can use for inspiration – just don’t overdo.

As a college coach I more try to promote awareness of the team, tweeting articles from our FAU Athletics site or local papers. I also keep up with folks, friends, or interests when time permits.

Considering that soccer has brought experiences and value to my life, plus representing my country in the Olympics is a cherished honor, I feel a duty to promote women’s soccer and grow the game in ways that help young girls and communities.

Are there ways you’ve used it that has surprised you?

As a networking tool – I am delighted at the amount of soccer folks I’ve connected with from around the world.

What impact or change have you seen due to Twitter/social marketing?

The ability to connect, promote and information exchange is easier than ever.

How do Twitter/social media help you achieve your goals?

To the degree that soccer is a business, Twitter help me to keep up with soccer trends and connect with customers and fan-base.

How did you build your following?

Following was somewhat slow to build at first, but I’ve been on for quite a while so it’s just natural that it would build with time. As well as more folks became interested in women’s soccer (due to USWNT or pro soccer news), my number of followers increased.

What kinds of people/businesses are they?

Mostly soccer but also random connections via shared interests other than soccer (i.e. music).

How will you choose who you will follow?

How I choose who to follow has changed over time. Currently I follow-back most soccer if they do not appear to be a computer-generated program. I also follow charities that I support.

What do you look for in a follower?

I prefer genuine soccer businesses (versus computer followers), but I do not block a follower unless they are posting spam using my name.

If you could go back to when you first began using social media, what is one thing you would have done differently?

I would be more proactive in connecting with other soccer businesses.

What does Twitter do for you that nothing else can do?

Currently nothing, but I can see it becoming of increased value to the programs that I work with in the future.

What lessons have you learned about Twitter and online marketing?

You’ve got to be creative, positive, and persistent about spreading your message.  If you are then you can make some meaningful and valuable connections.

Follow Staci Wilson on Twitter here, here, and here.
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